I saw Return of the Jedi in a theatre - probably the dollar theatre downtown, if I remember right. My parents took me. I took a little stuffed dog named Brucie in case I got scared by the rancor (which I new about from the book-and-tape of the movie, which did not spoil the Luke-Leia thing for me).
From age 4 on, waiting for the new Star Wars movie was a part of my life. Rumors went around all the time. After 1985, there were no new toys or media, really, for years. The R2D2 sweatshirt I got at Star Tours was about the only piece of new merchandise I could find.
I can still remember so many rumors. I knew, vaguely, that the next movies were supposed to take place BEFORE the current three, and that then he'd get around to parts 7-9, but I've no idea how I knew that now.
My brother peaked into the manager's office at the Carmike Cinema on Merle Hay Road and saw a poster for something called Revenge of the Jedi. Not knowing that this had been the working title for ROJ, this started us off on weeks of excitement.
A friend of my mom's was at Universal Studios or something and saw a guy filming something in a Darth Vader costume. This, too, fueled wild speculation among my friends.
A friend of mine thought he had seen an ad for a new movie called The Golden Jedi.
When the Timothy Zahn trilogy came out, the first new Star Wars stories in a good eight years, my friends and I freaked out. I heard that someone had seen on Entertainment Tonight that these were going to be the new movies, and that they'd already started working on the special effects for Thrawn's mask.
A Star Wars memorabilia price guide that came out around the same time said the new movie would be out in 1997 (a million light years away when you're 11 and it's 1991), but said that rumor had it that it would be made sooner. It was around 1994 that the Star Wars Fan Club magazine finally started talking about how the movie really, truly was underway.
After a trading card came out suggesting Kenneth Brannagh as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the new prequels, rumors went around that THAT was a real thing.
In the end, it almost didn't matter to me whether the new movie was any good or not - it was just the fact that it finally happened when it did. I went to parties, I waited in line, I sewed on Obi Wan Quixote costume that got me on the cover of a local alternative weekly.
And then, a few years later, I started talking about Star Wars with my stepson, who was really into it, despite not even having seen the movies yet. He knew it from video games, toys, and clothes. The Lego Star Wars game really gave him a very good working knowledge of the Star Wars Universe (maybe they should make Lego Dickens and Shakespeare games - I would be ALL OVER Lego Dickens).
His generation, and the other kids growing up with Star Wars, deserves new movies of their own. And I always, always, assumed that there would be an episode 7-9 eventually. People who believed it would never happened, I always said, must have thought Lucas would live forever. Someday, someone was going to make episode 7.
I, for one, was thrilled with the announcement that Disney had bought Lucasfilm. I'm glad Lucas passed the torch on himself - the new movies will feel legit to me (at least the first few new ones will), moreso than they would have if someone had got the license from Lucas's heirs. Sure, I have the same issues with Disney that anyone does (what if Peabo Bryson is singing "Life Day" under the credits, but they've been working with Lucas for years, anyway. And the rebooted version of Star Tours is absolutely awesome. Now a rumor is going around that Brad Bird might direct Episode 7, and I feel like a kid again. I'm digging into wild speculation and gossip about a new Star Wars movie! I'm excited about it!
I didn't realize how much I missed this.